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The Role and Impact of Forensic Evidence in the Criminal
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This document is a research report submitted to the U S Department of Justice This report has not. been published by the Department Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author s. and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U S Department of Justice. THE ROLE AND IMPACT OF FORENSIC EVIDENCE IN THE, CRIMINAL JUSTICE PROCESS. FINAL REPORT, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE, 2006 DN BX 0094. Joseph Peterson PI, Ira Sommers Co PI, Senior Research Associates. Deborah Baskin, Donald Johnson, California State University Los Angeles. School of Criminal Justice Criminalistics, The authors also wish to acknowledge Jason Larson Regina Peterson and Valerie Fisher for their.
capable assistance in collecting data from the Indiana study sites and Kenneth Takigawa Ada. Chan and several additional research assistants from California State University Los Angeles for. their help in collecting data in Los Angeles The authors would also like to thank the members. of the Project Advisory Committee consisting of Professors Shari Diamond Paul Giannelli and. Michael Saks and Mr Kevin Lothridge for their guidance and assistance throughout the. This document is a research report submitted to the U S Department of Justice This report has not. been published by the Department Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author s. and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U S Department of Justice. TABLE OF CONTENTS, EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1, CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION 11. Background to the Study 11, Study Objectives 11, Organization of the Report 12. CHAPTER II PHYSICAL EVIDENCE WHAT IT, CAN TELL THE INVESTIGATOR 14. Forensic Evidence Impact Studies 14, Criminalistics Forensic Science 17. Crime Laboratory Operations 20, CHAPTER III RESEARCH METHODOLOGY 26.
Study Sites 26, Research Sample Designs 31, Variables Measures 33. Analytical Strategy 35, National Study Outcome Comparisons 39. CHAPTER IV AGGRAVATED ASSAULT 42, Physical Evidence Collected Submitted 42. Tracking Cases Through the Criminal, Justice System 43. Predictors of Criminal Justice Outcomes 49, Arrests 49.
DA Referrals 52, Charging 52, Convictions 53, Plea Trial 53. Sentencing 53, Hard to Solve Cases 54, Discussion 54. CHAPTER V BURGLARY 60, Physical Evidence Collected Submitted 60. Tracking Cases Through the Criminal, Justice System 65. Predictors of Criminal Justice Outcomes 65, Arrests 65.
DA Referrals 67, This document is a research report submitted to the U S Department of Justice This report has not. been published by the Department Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author s. and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U S Department of Justice. Charging 67, Convictions 67, Plea Trial 67, Sentencing 67. Hard to Solve Cases 67, Discussion 71, CHAPTER VI HOMICIDE 74. Physical Evidence Collected Submitted 74, Tracking Cases Through the Criminal. Justice System 80, Predictors of Criminal Justice Outcomes 82.
Arrests 82, DA Referrals 82, Charging 82, Convictions 82. Plea Trial 83, Sentencing 83, Hard to Solve Cases 86. Discussion 86, CHAPTER VII RAPE 90, Physical Evidence Collected Submitted 90. Tracking Cases Through the Criminal, Justice System 93. Predictors of Criminal Justice Outcomes 98, Arrests 98.
DA Referrals 98, Charging 98, Convictions 101, Plea Trial 101. Sentencing 101, Hard to Solve Cases 101, Discussion 103. CHAPTER VIII ROBBERY 107, Physical Evidence Collected Submitted 107. Tracking Cases Through the Criminal, Justice System 112. Predictors of Criminal Justice Outcomes 112, Arrests 112.
DA Referrals 117, Charging 117, This document is a research report submitted to the U S Department of Justice This report has not. been published by the Department Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author s. and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U S Department of Justice. Convictions 117, Plea Trial 117, Sentencing 117, Hard to Solve Cases 119. Discussion 119, CHAPTER IX CONCLUSIONS DISCUSSION 122. APPENDIX A Unique Associative Evidence 131, This document is a research report submitted to the U S Department of Justice This report has not. been published by the Department Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author s. and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U S Department of Justice. Table 1 Reported Crime Incidents 32, Table 2 Sample Size by Crime Site 33.
Table 3 Key Study Variables 34, Table 4 National Study Criminal Justice Outcome Data 40. Table 5 Descriptive Characteristics of Assault Incidents 44. Table 6 Summary of Forensic Evidence for Assault Cases 46. Table 7 Likelihood of Criminal Justice Outcomes for Assault 50. Table 8 Predictors of Sentence Length for Assault 56. Table 9 Descriptive Characteristics of Burglary Incidents 61. Table 10 Summary of Forensic Evidence for Burglary Incidents 63. Table 11 Likelihood of Criminal Justice Outcomes for Burglary 68. Table 12 Predictors of Sentence length for Burglary 70. Table 13 Descriptive Characteristics of Homicide Incidents 75. Table 14 Summary of Forensic Evidence for Homicide Cases 77. Table 15 Likelihood of Criminal Justice Outcomes for Homicide 84. Table 16 Predictors of Sentence Length for Homicide 87. Table 17 Descriptive Characteristics of Rape Incidents 91. Table 18 Summary of Forensic Evidence for Rape Cases 95. Table 19 Likelihood of Criminal Justice Outcomes for Rape 99. Table 20 Predictors of Sentence Length for Rape 102. Table 21 Descriptive Characteristics of Robbery Incidents 108. Table 22 Summary of Forensic Evidence for Robbery Cases 110. This document is a research report submitted to the U S Department of Justice This report has not. been published by the Department Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author s. and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U S Department of Justice. Table 23 Likelihood of Criminal Justice Outcomes for Robbery 115. Table 24 Predictors of Sentence Length for Robbery 118. This document is a research report submitted to the U S Department of Justice This report has not. been published by the Department Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author s. and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U S Department of Justice. Figure 1 Flowchart of Forensic Evidence and Criminal Justice. Outcomes for Assault Incidents 48, Figure 2 Flowchart of Forensic Evidence and Arrest Outcomes. for Assault Incidents 51, Figure 3 Flowchart of Forensic Evidence and Criminal Justice. Outcomes for Burglary Incidents 66, Figure 4 Flowchart of Forensic Evidence and Arrest Outcomes. for Burglary Incidents 69, Figure 5 Flowchart of Forensic Evidence and Criminal Justice.
Outcomes for Homicide Incidents 81, Figure 6 Flowchart of Forensic Evidence and Arrest Outcomes. for Homicide Incidents 85, Figure 7 Flowchart of Forensic Evidence and Criminal Justice. Outcomes for Rape Incidents 97, Figure 8 Flowchart of Forensic Evidence and Arrest Outcomes for. Rape Incidents 100, Figure 9 Flowchart of Forensic Evidence and Criminal Justice. Outcomes for Robbery Incidents 114, Figure 10 Flowchart of Forensic Evidence and Arrest Outcomes.
for Robbery Incidents 116, This document is a research report submitted to the U S Department of Justice This report has not. been published by the Department Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author s. and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U S Department of Justice. Executive Summary, Introduction, Over the past twenty five years the forensic sciences have made dramatic scientific. breakthroughs DNA typing physical evidence databases and new scientific instrumentation. but studies are needed to assess the contribution of such advancements on the role and impact of. scientific evidence in criminal case processing Targeted studies have evaluated the value of. DNA evidence in property crime investigations but no studies have reviewed the full array of. scientific evidence present at crime scenes In 2006 the National Institute of Justice funded this. project to address the following four goals, Objective 1 Estimate the percentage of crime scenes from which one or more types of. forensic evidence is collected, Objective 2 Describe and catalog the kinds of forensic evidence collected at crime. Objective 3 Track the use and attrition of forensic evidence in the criminal justice. system from crime scenes through laboratory analysis and then through subsequent criminal. justice processes and, Objective 4 Identify which forms of forensic evidence contribute most frequently.
relative to their availability at a crime scene to successful case outcomes. Literature Reviewing the Examination and Impact of Physical Evidence. Forensic laboratories have multiplied almost four fold since the early 1970s as the result. of the drug abuse problem pressure on the police and courts to increase their reliance on more. objective forms of evidence scientific breakthrough in such fields as DNA testing that uniquely. determine the source of biological substances and a popular culture that has embraced forensic. science through both fictional and true crime media In spite of these advancements and growth. of forensic science services little published research exists on the uses and effects of forensic. science evidence Early studies in the 1960s and 1970s indicated physical evidence was. available at most crime scenes but little scientific evidence was collected and had minimal. impact on case outcome, The most detailed studies of the use of scientific evidence in the investigation and. adjudication of cases were funded by NIJ in the 1980s At the police investigation level. Peterson et al 1984 found clearance rates of offenses with evidence scientifically analyzed. were about three times greater than in cases where such evidence was not used A second. companion study found scientific evidence to have a very limited role in decisions to convict a. defendant but had its major effect on sentencing lab reports generally led to higher rates of. incarceration and was the only type of evidence to influence the length of the sentence More. recent studies of DNA evidence by Roman et al 2008 found solution rates of property crime. doubled when DNA evidence was collected prosecutions doubled and DNA was much more. This document is a research report submitted to the U S Department of Justice This report has not. been published by the Department Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author s. and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U S Department of Justice. effective than fingerprints in using evidence databases and Briody 2004 found homicide cases. with DNA evidence were much more likely to reach court and had a positive effect on juries. decisions to convict, Scientific laboratory techniques hold the potential of developing information from the. physical clues left at the crime scene that can assist in determining what transpired at the scene. and who was and was not involved Specifically the types of information it can provide are. Identification and Classification The review of physical evidence by competent crime. laboratory examiners often begins with tests to identify and classify a substance. Common Origin This is a refined and powerful conclusion in which the examiner concludes. that an item of evidence originated from a particular person or source. Reconstruction Corroboration Reconstruction aids the investigator and prosecutor in. hypothesizing the order of events the relative position of actors to one another and how the. crime in question unfolded, Different Origin Negative Identification Negative identifications are conclusions that a. substance is found not what the investigator hypothesized it to be A conclusion of different. origin is a laboratory result that states two or more items of evidence are not of common origin. Inconclusive A comparison between an item of evidence and a standard paint glass plastic. etc may simply be inconclusive, Recent censuses of crime laboratories have documented the millions of cases annually. submitted to the nation s four hundred crime laboratories and the growing backlog of cases. awaiting examination Beginning with the report of a crime to police the response by patrol and. investigation personnel the search for and collection of evidence and its submission to. laboratories physical evidence may be submitted for one of the reasons noted above In. response to the volume of scientific evidence being submitted to laboratories crime scene. investigators and the laboratories themselves have of necessity erected filters to screen out. evidence before it reaches laboratory facilities, Research Methods.
The principal data collection method in this project was a prospective analysis of official. record data that followed criminal cases in five jurisdictions Los Angeles County Indianapolis. IN and the Indiana State Police Laboratory System Evansville IN Fort Wayne IN and South. Bend IN from the time of police incident report to final court disposition Sites were selected. to represent city county and state crime laboratory services Data for the analyses were based on. Document Title The Role and Impact of Forensic Evidence in the Criminal Justice Process Author Joseph Peterson Ira Sommers Deborah Baskin and Donald Johnson Document No 231977 Date Received September 2010 Award Number 2006 DN BX 0094 This report has not been published by the U S Department of Justice

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